5 Take-Out Spots for July 4th

Before this year’s fireworks begin, we had to narrow down the best places to eat. While the lot of firework-watchers flee with pizza boxes and Chinese takeout on a scram to 12th Avenue (the barges are on the Hudson between 20th and 55th Streets again this year), all you’ll need to focus on is bribing your Chelsea-based friend to lend his rooftop or finding a clean place to park your to-gos on the West Side Highway.

With Cajun-spiced seitan, a salad with miso-ginger dressing and a goji berry shake, we think these takeout spots will get you oohh-ing and ahh-ing well before the first sparks shoot over the river. We even have a slow-roasted alternative for you fried chicken-craving folk.

One Lucky Duck
Quickly becoming a go-to among health conscious celebs in the city, this Chelsea Market (and Flatiron) locale earns its fame with the likes of spicy Thai wraps of mango, pea shoots, mint and tamarind sauce; a falafel salad with tabouli, lemon tahini and red pepper hot sauce; and the zucchini-tomato lasagna with pistachio basil pesto and pumpkin seed macadamia ricotta—the latter two, gluten-free. Finish with the moon pie and a goji berry shake.

Better Burger
From beef to chicken, turkey and even soy, all Better Burgers come antibiotic- and hormone-free with a toasted whole wheat bun, lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickles. Add a side of organic, air-baked Better Fries, dairy-free smashed potatoes or the veggie chili with organic beans.

Blossom Du Jour
For the non-meat-eaters, pack some sandwiches from this joint that’s helping to change the stigma of fast food. Take the Midtown Melt (Cajun-spiced seitan, agave guacamole, lettuce, chipotle aioli), the Raw Burrito (flax-seed wrap, pico de gallo, brazil nut sour cream) or the gluten-free quesadilla with black beans, corn and salsa. Wash it down with kombucha, a fresh-pressed juice or smoothie.

Organique
Here you’ll find classic combos that always work: panini with grilled vegetables, smoked mozzarella and basil mayo; country ham sandwich with gruyere, greens and dijon mayo; smoked salmon with cucumber and dill cream cheese. Also find create-you-own-salads with sun-dried cranberries, artichoke hearts and a miso-ginger vinaigrette.

Dirty Bird To-Go
We didn’t forget about you fried chicken eaters. This place deserves our seal and that of any lover of a good crispy-skinned fowl. Choose from the buttermilk-dipped batch (if you must) or the slow-roasted with a side of beets, sautéed kale or smashed potatoes. All-natural Boylan sodas are on offer as is homemade lemonade. Then finish with a pack of freshly baked “bad-ass” cookies.

Photo via pixietart, Flickr

Rouge Tomate Joins the Food Truck Game With Solar Power, Local Grub

Rouge Tomate has been a favorite of ours for a while now for its dedication to sustainable, biodynamic practices, local farm sourcing and delicate wielding of said sourcing into simple flavors we crave. So when word came of a Rouge Tomate street cart launching today in Central Park, exclamation points flew between this author and her editor.

Bypassing street meat after street meat, wisps of greasy somethings, takes its toll on the health conscious whether we like to admit it or not, and the new wave of food trucks, no matter their creativity and skill, don’t all meet our code. But check this sandwich menu: BLT with Woodlands pork bacon (nitrate-free), heirloom tomato and wild arugula grilled cheese with Grafton Village Creamery cheddar on Amy’s bread.

Then there’s rotating soups—an heirloom tomato gazpacho, chilled sweet corn—and desserts made by the restaurant’s in-house pastry chef, like seasonal sorbet and gelato with granola, spiced nuts and streusel. For washing down, there’ll also be selections from the juice bar. We could really go for either of these right now: lemonade with fresh mint and the Amber Palmer—iced tea, grapefruit juice and fresh herbs.

The cart—which we must add is solar-powered and stocked with 100% biodegradable or recycled serving materials—will be parked at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue in Central Park year-round, Monday through Saturday (and soon Sundays) from 10AM to 6PM.

Consider yourself free from tube meat temptation.

David Bouley in the Kitchen, Teaching Nutrition

The great American-born David Bouley, who spent time at much-honored Le Cirque and beside greats before him like Joel Robuchon before opening his Michelin-starred, Clean Plates-approved flagship, Bouley, has another hat: teacher. Based on his valued cooking techniques—and Greenmarket sourcing philosophy—classes at the chef’s test kitchen space at 88 West Broadway include farmers market tours and a lesson in clean, healthy fast food (sold out) and these we’re excited about, still up for registration: Continue reading

Farewell to Savoy, Soho’s Farm-to-Table Standby

Savoy signifies one of the first places in town to serve local grub—and would surely be one of the first we’d slap a Clean Plates sticker on had we been around when it opened in 1990, when New York was all about adopting haute French fare and not so much about getting the most from our own turf. That beacon closed over the weekend with a final dinner Saturday night and will reopen as a new space with a new game, but not without a sigh of nostalgia.

We thank pioneer Peter Hoffman for realizing, back in the ’90s, that there were many worthy products coming from our nearby soils. And really, if we wanted to be more like the French, keeping our food sources close would be step one. With that purveyor support, we have even more local delicacies for chefs to wield into high-flavor, high-nutrient meals on the line (and we at home).

Hoffman later opened Back Forty, another winner in our book, and we’re looking forward to checking out whatever his new owning will be when the doors reopen on Prince Street reportedly in the fall, among the rustle of old leaves and fresh local squash taken to its highest power no doubt on the menu.

E3 Live: The Newest “Super Food” Might Not Just be a Fad

First it was blueberries. Then came red wine, then pomegranate, followed closely by quinoa. Each discovered “super food” has been more nutritiously dense, and the latest is no exception.

While the name isn’t quite as succinct as acai, E3 Live has somehow gone unnoticed by the masses until now. So what exactly is this mysterious substance, grown on the upper shores of southern Oregon’s Klamath Lake? Considered one of the most nutritionally dense super foods around (it’s one of the most chlorophyll-rich foods known to man!), E3 Live provides 64 absorptive vitamins, minerals and enzymes. It’s a type of AFA (100% Aphanizomenon flos-aquae), living, liquid, aqua-colored algae that promotes health and prevents disease. The term “super food” refers to nutrient-dense herbs, seaweeds, bee products, vegetables, fruits and nuts that balance and harmonize the body and prevent heart disease, cancer and digestive problems. But what makes E3 Live an especially super super food is its chlorophyll content.

Chlorophyll is itself a very important super food, and a marvelously reparative vital force. There are other sources of chlorophyll such as wheatgrass and spirulina, but nothing contains the volume of chlorophyll that E3 Live does—a whopping 300 mg per serving.

What’s so special about chlorophyll? Chlorophyll is packed with nutrients from the soil, rebuilds red blood cells and oxygenates the body. But that’s not all. Among its other myriad benefits, chlorophyll cleanses organs, dispelling of toxic buildup and metal accumulation. It also increases mental focus, lifts and balances mood, and reduces stress in the body without causing sugary ups and decaffeinated downs.

All of chlorophyll’s benefits are also associated with E3 Live; it is known to increase stamina and aid in detoxification. Furthermore, E3 Live boasts high levels of carotenoids, or beta-carotene, which protect against latent degenerative disease. It’s also packed with trace minerals found to stimulate cancer-fighting cells—in fact, E3 Live is the only substance known to put these fighter modules into motion, which means that it could potentially prevent and fight off cancers.

Best of all, it’s easy to get a hold of! It’s portioned into tiny 2-oz bottles (sold at and Organic Avenue in NYC, or shipped directly from E3Live.com, Amazon, and therawfoodworld.com). It tastes better than pungent grass, and doesn’t stain the mouth, teeth and lips, as straight shots of chlorophyll can. Try it sooner than later; your body will thank you!

Summer Essentials: Healthy Eating During the Outdoor Event Season

In New York, summer doesn’t just mean sky-high temperatures–it also means the return of outdoor event season. In July and August, it can feel like every inch of public space is colonized by concerts, plays, or film screenings.

Though visiting new corners of the city is part of the fun when attending these events, eating healthfully while in unfamiliar neighborhoods can be challenging. But fret not! We found restaurants with the Clean Plates Seal near four of the biggest summer event sites. Pack this list alongside your sunglasses and your picnic blanket, and you’ll never go hungry.

Central Park Summerstage:
Summerstage bans outside food from all pay performances, and has mostly unhealthy snacks for sale inside its gates. But near the park’s East 72nd St. entrance, you can find healthy options–Le Pain Quotidien, which offers rustic vegan soups, salads, and sandwiches with organic breads, and Candle Cafe, which serves simple, naturally sweetened, and gluten-free vegetarian fare, like BBQ-tempeh-and-sweet-potato sandwiches, are both in the East 70s. A few blocks north in the East 80s, you can find the New York Times-acclaimed Gobo, and snag some affordable vegetarian delicacies, like truffled mushroom paninis.

HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival:
This film screening series, located shouting distance from Times Square, can seem like it’s in the middle of everything except healthy eating. But located directly across the street are two healthy on-the-go favorites: Pret a Manger, purveyors of pre-made, preservative-, hormone-and antibiotic-free sandwiches and soups; and the well-sourced, antibiotic-free-meat and organic dairy-based Mexican cuisine of Chipotle. Venture further from the park and you’ll be rewarded with FreeFoods, the all-organic soup, sandwich, and juice cafe created by an original owner of Pure Food and Wine.

South Street Seaport:
While not on many New Yorkers’ itineraries during the rest of the year, the Seaport has a secret summer life hosting the 4Knots and River to River festivals. A quick trip away from the traditional-fast-food-laden pier reveals healthy fast food mini-chain The Pump, which serves hormone- and antibiotic-free meats and organic tofu in sandwiches and salads. The area is also home to Pret a Manger and Chipotle locations.

High Line:
Healthy culture mavens taking in the High Line’s summertime arts offerings are in luck–this neighborhood boasts easy access to healthful food options like Cookshop, a New American spot that combines local sourcing and organic meats with old-fashioned favorites, like an antibiotic-free chicken salad; and Simple Kitchen, which specializes in natural, sustainable, and organic soups, sandwiches, and hot entrees. Nearby Chelsea Market features healthy eateries like Green Table, which puts local, seasonal spins on Americana classics like a locally-raised beef burger, and One Lucky Duck, a raw foods café known for its freshly pressed juices, snacks, and naturally-sweetened treats, like a cashew-and-cocoa-based “mallomar.”

Photo credit: Eschipul

Rouge Tomate Debuts Seasonal Tasting Menu

Indulgent five-course meals are easy to come by in New York City. But one that’s nutritious, delicious and under 1,000 calories? Virtually unheard of.

What seems too good to be true is actually the formula behind the seasonal tasting menu that recently debuted at Michelin starred restaurant, Rouge Tomate. Executive Chef Jeremy Bearman presents a multi-course menu that features decadent ingredients (think oysters, caviar, squab, lobster), yet delivers on its low-calorie promise and also supplies 40% of your daily nutritional requirements.

Rouge Tomate follows the philosophy of SPE® (Sanitas Per Escam or Health Through Food), an innovative approach to well-being developed by chefs and nutritionists that combines culinary expertise with the benefits of authentic nutrition. The first of its kind in NYC, the SPE® Tasting Menu will focus on optimal nutritional balance, local and organic sourcing, as well as gastronomic gratification. “We really want our guests to be able to indulge without leaving the restaurant feeling weighed down,” said in-house Culinary Nutritionist Natalia Hancock, R.D. “Diners will feel pleasantly satisfied and energized.”

The market-driven menu showcases a variety of nutrient dense produce at the peak of its season. Each tasting ($89 per guest) begins with a trio of amuse bouche, followed by four savory courses and dessert to finish. Highlights from summer’s menu include Hawaiian Walu Ceviche layered with avocado, sugar snap peas, spring radishes and yuzu, Thomas Farms Squab accented with local strawberries, endive and Sicilian pistachios, Langoustine Tortellini with basil, chanterelles and Santa Barbara sea urchin, and Executive Pastry Chef James Distefano’s exquisite dark chocolate Caraïbe Sphere of bing cherries, almond frangipane and dulce de leche.

To enhance the layers of flavor, celebrated Wine Director Pascaline Lepeltier tastefully pairs each course with complementary wines ($45 per guest) produced at sustainable, practicing organic and biodynamic vineyards, or cocktails ($45 per guest) featuring organic and quinoa-based vodkas and naturally infused spirits. For sipping sans alcohol, a unique seasonal beverage pairing ($35 per guest) offers “mocktails” using fresh fruit and vegetable juices that are pressed daily at the in-house juice bar.

By revolutionizing the multi-course dining experience, Rouge Tomate makes it possible to enjoy a substantial, flavorful meal without sacrificing nutrition. And who says you can’t have it all?

To view the SPE® Tasting Menu or for more information, visit RougeTomateNYC.com.

7 Cocktail Spots for Summer

We’re in the midst of the inaugural NYC Cocktail Week (like Restaurant Week), and while we’re sure there are plenty of great spots on the lineup, we have a few trusted standbys of our own. When ordering drinks, one can easily find cheap sticky sugars and not-so-fresh concoctions that are far from the original components that make cocktails so great—medicinal gin and tonics heavy on the high fructose corn syrup and artificial quinine, for one such ugly truth. But not on our bar tab.

With the likes of rhubarb pureés, organic vodka and a sangria with upstate rosé, we hope we’ve found some safe havens for you real-deal drinkers this summer. If so, we wouldn’t mind hearing a toast across the room.

Emporio
This wooden sky-lit space serves as a resting place for a similarly simple, light drink with a fitting name: The Luna. Organic Cucumber Vodka lines a glass of lemon, simple syrup and St. Germain elderflower liqueur that’d be a good match for the whole-roasted branzino or appetizers of octopus or Yellowfin crudo, we think.

Rouge Tomate
Those pink stalks of spring, rhubarb, get pureéd and bubbly-drunk in a Rhubarb Bellini with organic prosecco here, or added to house-smoked rum, lemon and prosecco for the Rhubarb Crisp. Prickly pear, Champagne, lemon verbena and biodynamic elderflower syrup make up a seasonal Spring 75. See also: blood orange, blueberry, and Thai basil-based cocktails. That’s because this spot is dedicated to sustainable practices, which carry through to the menu and wine list.

Counter
This home of vegetarian bistro wares and biodynamic wines serves sustainable cocktails, too—ones made with premium Rain vodka from 100% organic white corn. Choose from Married In A Fever (red wine-poached pear nectar, smoked pear-infused vodka), Angry Lesbian (tarragon-infused vodka with framboise and orange nectar) or the Up All Night: espresso bean, cocoa and vanilla-infused vodka rimmed with chocolate fudge.

Hundred Acres
Farmer’s Organic Gin is the base for a Grapefruit Cooler here with elderflower and lime. We’d also suggest the Dirty Tomato Martini with Organic Tomato Vodka, basil and olive for something like a liquored-up gazpacho.

Home
This Greenwich Village locale enlists its locally sourced cocktail program with the likes of Hudson Baby Bourbon and Finger Lakes wine. Order The Cornelia (named for the restaurant’s street address) for a mix of Finger Lakes Distilling’s Seneca Drums gin, aperol, sparkling wine and fresh orange. The Village Fizz is a martini glass of Texas-based Titos Vodka (made from agave), pureéd apricot jam and lemon juice. Then there’s the Rosé Sangria with Finger Lakes-based Lakewood Vineyard rosé, fresh fruit (orange, lemon, lime, green apple) and a shot of tequila (optional).

508
A Sunburnt Melons cocktail sounds fun, and it is: Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila (made from 100% agave), fresh watermelon and ginger pureés, lime juice and agave nectar. We’d take it with the bar’s half-shelled oysters or ceviche of octopus, scallops and peppers.

Five Points
Alongside some local wines and microbrews sits the Montauk Fizz: pureéd ginger root, fresh lime, gin and seltzer. We’d advise sending this one up in the air—perhaps over a plate of country-style paté—for a toast of some of the best bottoms-up this side of New Orleans.

Photo via Joel Olives, Flickr

Good Eats on Wheels: 9 Food Trucks to Track Down in NYC

From the classic, omnipresent hot dog and gyro stands to the new wave of hipster food trucks, street food is tempting and convenient and has that certain gritty appeal. A little too gritty, perhaps? Health and safety concerns don’t need to turn you off of street meat (and veggies) altogether. The next time you want to order lunch from a roving kitchen, line up at one of these businesses with organic and vegetarian options and eco-conscious operations.

Organic Carts NYC

GustOrganics, the world’s first USDA certified organic restaurant, has expanded into the food truck business. Beyond what most healthy, sustainable eateries can say, at Organic Carts NYC, 100 percent of the ingredients used are organic. You can order wraps, empanadas, hummus, salad, and soup; and beverages include lemonade, fair trade coffee and tea, and filtered tap water in biodegradable cups—avoiding the waste that comes along with plastic bottles. All packaging, in fact, is environmentally friendly, and carts are equipped with solar panels in order to heat food with renewable energy.

The inaugural cart has staked out a spot at Park Avenue and 53rd Street, but GustOrganics CEO Alberto Gonzalez hopes to multiply the number of carts in 2011 and beyond.

Korilla BBQ

A fresh, mobile take on Korean BBQ, Korilla offers meats, veggies, kimchi, and rice in the form of tacos, burritos, and chosun bowls. For those who crave meat, know that the pork and chicken are free of hormones and antibiotics. The beef is USDA Choice Grade, so it might be better quality than your typical street meat, but it’s not organic. For vegetarians who could never understand their friends’ unbridled ravings about Korean BBQ, every dish here comes with a tofu option—and the tofu is homemade and organic, so there’s no need to worry about low-quality or GMO soy products. Korilla’s “wild mountain” vegetables, which include mushrooms, flowers, roots, sprouts, and ferns, are organic as well.

The Korilla BBQ truck parks for lunch and dinner at a different locale each day of the week, ranging from Midtown down to the Financial District.

AsiaDog

AsiaDog isn’t exactly a truck or cart, but it is a portable hot dog operation where, for a dollar extra, you can spring for an organic beef or vegetarian hot dog. Inspired pan-Asian toppings include seaweed flakes, kimchi apples, mango sauce, and sesame slaw. Not everything here can be considered healthy, but at least you’ll have healthier options than at your typical hot dog stand.

Besides its new brick and mortar shop at 66 Kenmare Street in Nolita, AsiaDog makes frequent pop-up appearances at the Brooklyn Flea, Central Park Summerstage, and other locations.

La Cense Beef Burger Truck

La Cense is a cattle ranch in Montana that sells most of its beef through online orders, but the company has hit the streets of New York, offering burgers and sandwiches from its truck. All of La Cense’s beef is from grass-fed cows that are not given hormones or antibiotics. Offering the animals nutrients through natural grazing rather than a grain diet makes the final meat product lower in fat and calories, and higher in Omega-3 fats and beta-carotene. The operation is also much more sustainable than your typical factory farm, so if you have a hankering for a burger, this mobile kitchen offers a conscious way to indulge.

The truck parks in Manhattan, often on Wall Street or Barclay Street, and announces its location on Twitter daily.

Good to Go Organics

Good to Go carts make it possible for urban dwellers to satisfy cravings for a backyard barbecue, offering grass-fed beef burgers from Kinderhook Farm in the Hudson Valley, and a variety of organic hot dogs and sausages from Applegate Farms in New Jersey. Vegetarian dogs and sausages are an option, too, but be aware that they are the processed, high sodium kind that you find in the frozen aisle of the grocery store. Toppings include organic cheese, organic onions, and organic sauerkraut, and whole wheat buns are available too. In addition to the hot food, Good to Go stocks snacks and beverages from health-conscious brands like Honest Tea and Annie’s Homegrown.

Good to Go’s three carts can be found in Central Park and at Chelsea Piers.

Taim Mobile

This all-vegetarian Israeli food truck is the roaming version of Taim Falafel and Smoothie Bar, a permanent fixture in the West Village named after the Hebrew word for “tasty.” The falafel is gluten free and cooked in oil that’s free of trans fat, but keep in mind that falafel is still a fried food that should be consumed in moderation. Healthier options include quinoa salad, hummus with whole wheat pita, and 100% fruit smoothies. All dairy and egg products are clearly marked so that vegans can avoid them.

Taim Mobile parks on the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, publishing its whereabouts via Twitter.

NY Dosas

Thiru Kumar’s food cart won a Vendy Award in 2007 for its thin, crispy dosas with all-vegan fillings. The vendor/chef makes the South Indian rice-and-lentil crepes from scratch, pouring batter separately for each order while a long line forms. South Indian expats, NYU students, and anyone who works in the area, whether they’re vegetarian or not, agree that the dosa truck is one of the best hearty lunches in the Village. For street food, Kumar’s dosas are exceptionally fresh, healthy, and thoughtfully prepared, and everything on the menu is $6 or less.

Join the crowd at this popular spot on the south side of Washington Square Park from 11:00 to 4:00, Monday through Saturday.

Green Truck

After becoming popular in Los Angeles, the Green Truck is becoming a permanent New York fixture in spring or summer 2011. The business takes its “green” commitment seriously: the kitchen is powered by solar energy, used vegetable oil is repurposed as truck fuel, food scraps are composted at farms where the food originally came from, and utensils and packaging materials are all recyclable or biodegradable. In terms of the food, Green Truck serves up sandwiches, tacos, and salad made from all organic ingredients. The homemade veggie burger or hummus will satisfy vegans, while meat eaters can try the wild-caught fish or organically raised chicken in the form of tacos or a wrap.

The Green Truck makes appearances at special events, and will soon be stationed in the West Village.

Snap Truck

This new business hasn’t actually secured a street vendor permit yet, but as soon as it does, the plan is to fuel the truck and kitchen with used vegetable oil. The truck will serve up high-quality burgers (from organic, grass-fed beef) and hot dogs (from a local sausage maker) with all of the Chicago-style fixin’s. Avocado fries provide an interesting alternative to your typical sides. Burgers, dogs, and fries are still not the healthiest choice, but if you are going to indulge, Snap offers a better—for you and the environment—option than a conventional fast food joint or hot dog stand.

For now, you can only find Snap at special events; when it gets a street permit, Twitter will tell you where to track down the truck.

Photo of Korilla BBQ by Dennis Crowley via Flickr

Brooklyn Brewery Pairing Dinner at Eleven Madison Park

The much-celebrated (and Clean Plates-approved) Eleven Madison Park reigns with seasonal modern fine dining, no question, but on June 26th it’ll dive into new food-and-drink pairing territory with the city’s globetrotting Brooklyn Brewery, a “clean” destination in its own right. (Yep, that’s fine beer, not wine.)

“Fine dining has always been so focused on pairing food with wine,” said EMP Chef Daniel Humm in a press release. “Working together with Garrett [Oliver, Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster] and Kirk [Kelewae, beer program and dining room manager of EMP], I’ve come to realize that there are extraordinary beers that can play as beautifully with our food as wine does.”

For the pairing, Humm will line up Oliver’s solid crafts with the likes of caviar and vichyssois-marinated oysters, butter-poached lobster (with lemon verbena and summer squash), pork (with apricot and cardamom), chèvre (with onion, cherries and walnuts) and chocolate cannelloni with espresso caramel and yogurt. While the final beer list is to be determined, you can expect a taste of the very first test batch of Brooklyn Local 1, a favorite since 2006, and a cocktail-inspired sud with canapès on the patio.

The night also serves as an unveil of two new brews—Brooklyn Local 11 (a riff on Belgian-style dark ale, Brooklyn Local 2) and Nine Pin Brown Ale, a collaboration with EMP’s own dining manager and bourbon-barrel aging (courtesy of Old Rip Van Winkle Bourbon Distillery) for a textured re-fermentation that Oliver says hints of vanilla, coconut and florals. “The 20-year Van Winkle barrels are unlike any barrels I’ve used.”

Tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased by emailing beer@ElevenMadisonPark.com